Fishermen turn to begging on the streets and becoming car guards
Kalk Bay Harbour commercial handline fishing is on death row.
The fishing stocks have declined dramatically. One cause is overfishing outside of False Bay by giant corporate commercial operations and illegal fishing by foreign vessels. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Over the past three decades, policing of South African waters to stop illegal fishing by foreign operators has been lacking.
Adequate policing of the coastal waters costs millions and funds have shrunk (we all know why) to finance such operations.
Kalk Bay harbour is a travesty of what it once was.
During the summer months, I spent some time at Kalk Bay harbour. I fished on one of the boats for snoek and chokka.
It was a privilege to talk to some of the fishermen who are still around.
On the surface of things, Kalk Bay Harbour hasn’t changed. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find that things have changed for the worse.
In the hay days of the 1970s, commercial fishing boats would come in with a catch of 40,000 snoek on one day. On a very good day in the summer season of 2021/22, the boats brought in a total catch of 400 snoek. Sometimes only 40. Doesn’t this say something?
There are now three hand-line commercial fishing boats left. The other boats you see are commercial crayfishing boats that are based in Kalk Bay Harbour.
Yes, the decline of handline fishing is partly due to overfishing all over South Africa’s coastline.
But main reason is fishing quotas.
Commercial fishing quotas have reduced commercial handline fishing to three boats in Kalk Bay Harbour.
I witnessed firsthand how a veteran fisherman was forced to become a car guard. The boat he fished on was refused a commercial fishing licence.
Let that sink in. A fisherman from a very long line of fisher folk dating back to the first Filipino fishermen in the early 1800s.
Others have been reduced to begging on the streets.
Sad. Very sad.
All because of draconian measures of exclusion intent on a program of appears to be total annihilation.
Over 40 years ago, when I fished from Kalk Bay Harbour it was a vibrant place – a community asset. Now it has been reduced to a tourist trap. A?handful of eateries are the only commercially viable entities that exist.
There’s no doubt that it is still a beautiful harbour especially looking down from the homes above Kalk Bay and Boyes Drive. And it’s still a wonderful experience to walk along the pier and smell the fresh sea air. But for the fishermen who have been plying their trade for centuries, it unfortunately looks like the end of the line.?